Opinion | The best Niagara restaurants you won't find on a 'best of' list – St. Catharines Standard
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I have no idea what OpenTable is or what it does. I’m guessing some kinda app people use to make dinner reservations. Because we need an app for everything these days apparently. What ever happened to just calling a restaurant and making a reservation? Not everything needs an app. It seems like more and more, the purpose of these new apps is to keep people from having to do any real human interaction.
But whatever, I digress, as usual.
Whatever the heck OpenTable is, it resulted in this list that purports to have used its algorithm to determine the 100 best restaurants in Canada. In doing so, it used data from the app, including something called “user clout,” which immediately made me suspicious of the veracity of this list.
After seeing an article (right here in Niagara This Week) with a headline that four Niagara restaurants were on the top 100 list, I excitedly clicked the article to find out which ones made the cut.
Only to be immediately disappointed. Four different wineries? Really?
You’re telling me that of all the different and amazing restaurants across all of Niagara, the four best all just happen to be at wineries?
I mean no offence to any of the wineries on this list; I’m sure they’re perfectly delicious places to get a bite to eat. But I also don’t feel like they’re indicative of the broader food scene in Niagara.
So check out my best of Niagara list instead.
Top of the list, no question, is Amakara Japan in downtown St. Catharines. I love me some Amakara because it genuinely feels like going to a restaurant in Japan, which is to say, it feels like you’re just in some dude’s house who happens to be making food for you, right down to the fact that there are only like six tables awkwardly crammed into what very much appears to be his living room. You will not find better sushi anywhere in Niagara.
Staying with the Asian food theme, Lucky Thai in Port Colborne has the best pad thai ever. Again, this place is basically just a guy’s house with about five tiny tables inside, but it also has a really nice outdoor patio along the edge of the canal. In terms of value, their lunch special (pad thai, soup and a spring roll) is about the best bang for your buck you’ll find anywhere.
Since no list of the top Niagara restaurants is complete without at least one Italian place, I’ve gotta go with Vaticano in Fort Erie. The food is amazing and the patio overlooks the Niagara River. A great meal with a view; doesn’t get much better than that.
Next up, Shawarma Hut Plus in St. Catharines. I’ve been going there for 10 years now. Never had a bad meal, though admittedly, I’ve only ever had the chicken shawarma wrap. The owner there knows all his customers by their phone number, so when I call he answers with, “Hello James, the usual?” and I just say yes and when I get there my food is waiting. Perfection.
Rounding out my list is Cheryl’s Deli & Subs in Niagara Falls. This place rocks because it has an old-timey diner feel to it. The first time I went there, the owner greeted me with, “What can I getcha, hun?” and I knew right away it was going to be good. Sure enough, it was the best sub I’d ever had in my life.
So there you have it, my list of the best restaurants in Niagara. Do with it what you will; all I ask is that you go there in person or call them directly for a takeout order, don’t use one of those awful Skip The Door Eat Uber app things.
James Culic is Niagara This Week’s columnist and he doesn’t even know how to use those food ordering apps. Email him at [email protected] or holler on Twitter @jamesculic.
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